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News/Business. Dennis Murphy. (2009) A dedicated police officer works to bring closure to the family of a missing Michigan woman years after her disappearance. (HD) (CC) (Stereo)

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NBC

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02:00:00

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mpeg2video

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ac3

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528

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480

TOPIC FREQUENCY

Mac 25, Us 22, Cindy Zarzycki 19, Mclaughlin 8, Linda Bronson 7, Davis 5, Cathy 5, Cindy 4, Jen Leibow 4, Dr. Scholl 4, Derek Mclaughlin 4, Detroit 3, Nissan Altima 3, Michigan 3, Smith 3, Jen 3, Eric Smith 3, Clarice 3, Canada 2, New Lamps 2,
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  NBC    Dateline NBC    News/Business. Dennis Murphy.  (2009) A dedicated police  
   officer works to bring closure to the family of a missing...  

    September 3, 2010
    9:00 - 11:00pm EDT  

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deep in a dusty vault, forgotten in a fading file, a killer waits to be caught, a case waits to be cracked. she was full of life and laughter. >> there was a joy to watch her, because she had so much enthusiasm. >> her passions, songs, softball and soon a first love. >> i wondered what kind of a secret that she was trying to get around to telling. >> a secret only her girlfriends knew. >> they were going to go meet at dairy queen. >> and at the dairy queen, she disappeared. >> they just assumed she ran away, open and closed. >> her loved ones would not stop looking. >> we never forgot her. >> someone else would not forget. a veteran detective. >> he says you've been looking for her a long time.
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>> and a young volunteer. >> there was a sense of injustice there. >> they found new information. >> art was involved in this girl's disappearance. >> i.d.'d a suspect. >> it makes me sound like a monster. >> you've been our own personal hannibal lecter. >> no matter what, they would not give up till they brought her home. >> we were not going to leave without her letting us know where she was. >> cracked, the case of the girl who never came home. >> good evening and welcome to "dateline." i'm ann curry. what happens after a family refuses to let the case of a missing child go unsolved. this family's passion was matched by the dedication of a veteran policeman and a young intern, who working together, were finally able to uncover the truth. here's dennis murphy. >> she was meeting a friend, and they were meeting at the dairy
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queen and they were going to go to church. >> she's your daughter. she's your sister. she's 13 years old, and she disappears. >> had a birthday cake and nobody to blow out the candles. >> my chief threw this box on my desk. he says, this is an old file. they want you to solve it. >> he promised me, he says, i will not give up till we find cindy. >> i took that file home with me almost every single night and just kept re-reading it. there was more to it. you could see that. >> there's the seeker card. he says, you must be the seeker. the person of interest at this time was art ream. >> i'm not going to lie to you. but i'm not going to tell you what you want to know. >> when he wouldn't answer, when he wouldn't elaborate, we knew we were on to something. >> we weren't supposed to find her that day, but i'll tell you, she was calling to us.
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♪ >> reporter: do you remember making mix tape cassettes for your friends? all these years later that's something a best friend recalls about cindy. >> dance music. she loved to dance. >> reporter: maybe the sound track to your life in the middle '80s was like cindy zarzycki, cyndi lauper, motley crue and especially hometown favorite madonna. ♪ something in the way you love me won't let me be ♪ >> reporter: the older sister she swapped clothes with still laughs about it. >> we had a song i still remember every move to this day. madonna's "borderline." and cindy and i would dance to that song over and over upstairs. >> reporter: in the middle '80s a kid like cindy didn't live in a big universe. hers was a blue collar detroit suburb known back then as east detroit.
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neighbors mostly assembled cars or stamped out the parts for them. the borders of this teenage girl were home, school, church and the mall, movies, meeting boys and messing around. in the warm months there were rundown ball fields for softball games, a family passion. and there was the friendly dairy queen down the street after softball. eddie jr.'s the kid brother. what did cindy get, do you remember? >> vanilla, probably swirl, ice cream cone. we always got the twist with the chocolate and the -- >> and the sprinkles. >> and the vanilla with the sprinkles. >> reporter: it was the early spring of 1986, and cindy, 13, about to be 14, would be playing first base and batting cleanup for her church softball team. just two weeks before it all happened, she was playing catch outside with eddie jr. when cindy piped up and asked her dad if he'd help coach the team that coming season. >> it was kind of exciting
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because it was something that as a father i could connect with her. >> reporter: it hadn't been easy for cindy's father raising a son and two daughters by himself after the marriage broke up. ed zarzycki was a school custodian. and what exactly to do with a young daughter other than love her perplexed him a bit. so this new softball connection was a welcome one between father and daughter. >> i mean, i had no problems with her. it was a joy to watch her come home from school and that because she had so much enthusiasm in her. she always had a smile. ♪ i'm proud to be an american where at least i know i'm free ♪ >> reporter: and not at all a shy kid. there was that time the summer before on a family camping trip across the river in canada. >> middle of the night the bonfire was going and at that time that song "proud to be an american." she was singing that song just as loud. that was the type of person. she enjoyed life. >> reporter: and in the last couple of years she discovered boys.
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>> all i remember is she used to come home from school and write boys' names like 50 times. i love scott or i love dave. >> reporter: the boy's name she was writing the most that spring was scott. theresa olechowski, cindy's best friend since the second grade, like sisters in their matching too cool for school white boots with buckles -- >> we wore those shoes everywhere. >> reporter: -- was at the mall when cindy's crush on scott began. >> scott had a couple of friends with him. we passed by. we started talking to them. they started talking to us. and i think they had a lot of the same interests. >> reporter: cathy bouford was cindy's other great friend from school and sleepovers. >> she was really head over heels in love with them but it wasn't anything like a long, deep relationship. >> reporter: this is puppy love, infatuation. >> puppy love, exactly. >> reporter: but the place where puppy love blossomed here at the macomb mall would later get cindy in hot water with her father.
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this mall was about seven miles from her house and she had standing orders from her dad never to walk home, but she did. and a single dad raising a teenager needed his rules followed. >> so i grounded her. >> reporter: which meant what, come home right after school? >> and to stay at the house. >> reporter: grounded. no mall, no scott. they went to different schools. >> i think she was probably frustrated like any 13-year-old would be when grounded, but then at that time the most important thing on her mind was scott. you know, how am i going to talk to scott? how am i going to see scott? >> reporter: after school friday, april 18th, 1986, cindy said good-bye to her friends cathy and theresa and reported directly home, as per her father's punishment. but the next evening, saturday, cindy bolted from house arrest. >> well, she called me and wanted to come over. and she escaped her house. came over to my house between 6:00 and 6:30. >> reporter: she wasn't supposed to be there. >> no. >> reporter: the two girls talked about, what else, scott.
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a boy cathy had never met. cindy used the phone to finalize surreptitious plans. she would go to the dairy queen and get a ride to a surprise birthday party planned for scott the next day, sunday. cathy would be the alibi. >> she had told mr. zarzycki that she was going to church with me the next morning. >> reporter: come the next morning, cindy told her kid brother she was going out for a while. >> we're supposed eto be together, dad's not going to be happy with us. she's like, i'm going. just stay here. then she started walking. then i followed her. and she was like, go home, go back. that's when she really changed her voice and screamed at me to go back. i wasn't supposed to come there. >> reporter: you can't be the tag-along kid brother. >> yep. >> reporter: the infatuated 13-year-old softball ace in her cool white boots and jeans purse pivoted and strolled to the dairy queen, and then she vanished. coming up -- frantic hours, days of pain.
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cindy's family launches a search. >> it was panic. you knew there was something wrong. >> reporter: when "cracked: the case of the girl who never came home" continues. ♪ [ female announcer ] bursting with mouth-watering real fruit and refreshingly blended with creamy, low-fat yogurt. mcdonald's new strawberry banana and wildberry smoothies are 100% pure sipping fun. the simple joy of real fruit smoothies. ♪ ♪ look like an angel [ grunting ] ♪ walk like an angel ♪ walk like an angel [ laughs ] ♪ talk like an angel ♪ but i got wise [ grunting ] ♪ you're the devil in disguise [ male announcer ] we put it through over 5,000 quality tests... so it'll stand up to just about anything.
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>> reporter: 13-year-old cindy zarzycki was headed to the dairy queen a few blocks from her home on a sunday morning. that's what she told her kid brother eddie when she wheeled and barked at him to go back home, not follow her. cindy had been going to the same dairy queen since she was in her mother's home.
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ellen zarzycki had been divorced since 1981. the two had been getting cones there since junior high days together. married and pregnant, they still stopped by. >> i remember when i was expecting cindy, i didn't have cravings. but ed would have cravings. he would have to have a strawberry sundae from the dairy queen. >> reporter: after the marriage broke up, there was no way, alice thought, that she could raise the three children. she worked nights and was left with only a small house and had little money. ed got custody. cindy became the daughter she'd see on weekends. >> she was a middle child, and that's usually a child that tries really hard to please. >> reporter: on the saturday before she went missing, cindy dropped in on her mom. a visit allowed by her dad's grounding rules. they talked a little about her punishment for walking home from the distant mall. >> she was upset, but she knew she did wrong. >> reporter: but a mom with an extra sense about these things had a feeling something else was
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agitating her teenage daughter. >> she asked, could she spend the night? i would have loved to have been able to say yes, but i had to work and i had to tell her no. >> reporter: restless, cindy made that unauthorized visit to her girlfriend cathy's house, where she used the phone to finalize plans for what was supposed to be a surprise birthday party for scott the following day, the sunday. cindy hadn't said anything about a party to her mom. >> it's always troubled me that i didn't have her stay. i wondered what kind of a secret that she was trying to get around to telling me. >> reporter: by 3:00 sunday afternoon, cindy was getting into big trouble with her father. >> got a phone call from ed, and he said, would you tell cindy to come back home now. and i said, well, cindy was over yesterday, but she's not here today. he said, she isn't home. >> reporter: when did you start to get worried? >> probably about 5:00, 6:00. it was dinner time. and they're usually all home for
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dinner. and she wasn't around. >> reporter: what did you do? >> i went to the police station. and they told me that i had to wait 24 hours to file a report. >> she should have been home. she's not home. now we're calling friends, trying to find out where she's at. >> so we went to different places looking for her. >> reporter: cindy's brother, sister, mother and father divided the search. two to stay by the phones, the others driving down dark streets looking for the blond teenager. had she run off with scott? was this her little rebellion against her father's grounding rules? where could cindy be? missing now for more than 12 hours. >> at that point, we were still hoping that she had just spent the night at somebody's house. >> and i remember my mom coming into the room and saying, do you know where cindy is. she says, if you know anything, you better spill it. >> reporter: you're a 13-year-old yourself. were you wondering where she is? >> i was concerned right away, yeah. >> reporter: but on the bright
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side, this was east detroit with the motto "a family town." bad stuff happened in the big city nearby, not here. >> you didn't hear about that in east detroit. you heard about it in other states. and so when you're 13, you think you're untouchable. >> reporter: still, that sunday night, the phone didn't ring. cindy's bed stayed empty. >> it was panic. you knew that there was something wrong. >> reporter: monday morning, first thing, ed zarzycki went down to the small town police station to report his daughter officially a missing person. he says the officer taking the report told him she was probably just a runaway. did it make sense to you when they suggested that? >> i was hoping that was it. but when someone hasn't run away, and always is in contact, you have a feeling there maybe there is something wrong. >> reporter: two town cops were assigned the cindy zarzycki case
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and by 10:00 a.m., they pulled her friend out of history class. >> they asked me questions. i told them specifically who she was going with. >> reporter: you told them the story about she said i'm going to the dairy queen? >> yes. >> reporter: theresa was interviewed by the officers at her home after school. like cathy, she told the cops about cindy's plans to meet someone at dairy queen on sunday, but she had the impression that the officers had already locked on to a theory that cindy was hiding out at another girlfriend's. >> they seemed to want to discuss more about who would keep her if she ran away. >> they just assumed she's not here, what could happen, she ran away and open and closed. >> reporter: on their own, family members did what they could to find cindy. they staked out the trailer park where cindy's boyfriend scott lived, hoping she might be there. they printed and distributed posters of their missing daughter and sister. her mother, alice, asked the local papers if they'd run cindy's picture as a news item, but they turned her down in that age before amber alerts. >> cindy had just seen a movie
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"desperately seeking susan." so i put an ad in the personals, desperately seeking cindy. nobody, nobody responded to it. >> reporter: six weeks after she went missing, it was cindy's birthday, june 8th. >> had a birthday cake and nobody to blow out the candles. >> reporter: obsessed with finding cindy, their runaway, looking at the mall, on the street, how many times did a young blond teen with a similar build catch their eye for just a moment? once late at night, the authorities in detroit called ed. >> a body had come into the morgue, and asked if i would come down and identify it because it had similarities of cindy. >> reporter: were you relieved when you left the morgue that day and it wasn't your cindy? >> yes, yes. >> reporter: so there was still a flicker of hope out there? >> yes. >> reporter: cindy's best friend from the second grade where they
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had won every three-legged race together, had moved on to high school. cindy's father was the school custodian. >> and i remember seeing him in the hallways and just the broken look on his face. i can't even imagine, you know, as a parent myself, what that must have been like. to watch her friends grow up around him every day and not have his daughter. >> reporter: and theresa, the best friend, was as obsessed as everyone else in trying to find out what had happened to cindy zarzycki. >> we'd look and hang up posters. we did that for a long time. i never forgot her. >> reporter: what did you think? >> i knew she was dead the whole time. >> reporter: coming up, just when it seemed she'd never be found, a new detective takes the case and takes it personally. >> as i got to know her better, he wasn't going to work on the case. he was going to find cindy. >> reporter: what would he find? when "cracked: the case of the girl who never came home" continues. ♪
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>> reporter: cindy zarzycki became one of those "have you seen this child" faces on the back of store coupons, forever 13 years old. she'd walked off to dairy queen on a sunday morning in 1986 and was never seen again. >> she looked up to me. i let her down. >> reporter: why do you say
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that? >> because i wasn't there. >> reporter: cindy's older sister connie had been away from the house that week. her kid brother eddie was also tortured with guilt. >> we should have been there and helped her out. >> reporter: you should have tagged along? >> yeah. >> we have seen how that the power of love has healed. >> reporter: in 1994, eight years after her disappearance and commemorating cindy's 21st birthday, the zarzyckis held a candlelight vigil in front of the family home. >> 13-year-old cindy zarzycki -- >> reporter: the media picked it up. and interest in the fate of the missing teen was revived, with cindy's face popping up on "have you seen me" mailings like this one. connie, there was a message to the police, we're still here, we haven't gone away. >> right. >> reporter: and you need to get this going again. >> and i had written a poem. i actually had that poem published. >> reporter: do you remember a few lines of it? >> cindy jo, where did you go? and it talks about looking for her.
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my poem is that she's out there and i'll find her. ♪ then you say go slow >> reporter: that's when the family recalled one of cindy's favorite songs from the old mix tapes. cyndi lauper's "time after time." the chorus spoke to them. >> if you look, you will find me, time after time. ♪ if you fall i will catch you ♪ i'll be waiting ♪ time after time >> reporter: and if cindy came looking for them, the family made sure that the old home phone number never got changed. the house she knew stayed in the family, just in case one happy day she turned up at the front door. one thing that had changed by the early '90s was the name of the town. gritty sounding east detroit had been redubbed the more upscale eastpointe. in the police station, though, nothing had much changed with the cindy cold case file. it had been handed down from officer to officer over the years for a little defrosting. mostly chasing down tips of
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cindy sightings around the country that went nowhere. but after the family's candlelight vigil spurred media interest, a new detective named danielle davis, took a look at the file and decided to reclassify it as a possible murder. >> and officially that would allow it to be opened. >> reporter: one of detective davis' first questions was to find out what cindy's teen crush back then, the boy named scott, knew about her disappearance. scott ream, by then 22 years old, was located and agreed to a police interview right after the upcoming fourth of july holiday. it never happened. scott ream was killed by a drunk driver first. >> told there was nothing that could be done, but that did start part of the ball rolling. >> reporter: one person reading those fresh news stories about the missing girl, it turned out, was scott ream's mother, a woman named linda bronson. she was divorced from scott's
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father. linda bronson was upset by what she read as innuendo in the news stories that her now-dead son had somehow been responsible for cindy's disappearance. >> i knew that just couldn't be true. that's why i contacted danielle davis. >> reporter: but linda bronson wasn't just calling to clear her son's name. she had some information to offer. and detective davis was listening. >> she was very interested in it. she believed me. she wholeheartedly believed me. at least i felt she did. >> reporter: now, for the first time in eight years, the eastpointe police department began looking at the cindy case as something other than a possible runaway. the detective, danielle davis, began piecing together a timeline of cindy's last weekend home. chasing down old witnesses. but after that flurry of fresh energy came a new setback. detective davis left the department. once again the cindy cold case file would be passed on to a new set of investigative eyes. in may of 1995, an eastpointe cop named derek mclaughlin, mac
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to one and all, got promoted to the detective division's youth bureau that handled 40 to 50 juvenile cases a month. >> my chief came down and threw this box on my desk. he said this is an old file. he says, it's still an open case. he said, i want you to solve it. >> reporter: solve it. >> solve it. >> reporter: mac stayed late that night, reading the yellowing case files. in cindy's old snapshots, in her diary, she looked and sounded to him like a happy, normal kid, not a potential runaway. the business about the crush on scott jumped out at him as what he'd need to find out to advance the case. >> the whole case intrigued me. >> reporter: why? >> i read all the statements that detective davis had filled out, all the interviews that she conducted. there are some things that were popping out at me that were substantial. >> reporter: one thing really stood out.
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the lead that linda bronson, the mother of cindy's boyfriend, had given detective davis. it was a bombshell. >> after thinking about it for a short time, i realized that art was involved in this girl's disappearance. >> reporter: and who was art? he was scott ream's father, and linda bronson's ex-husband. a carpet installer with a warehouse business. but what he also was, according to the ex, was a man who preyed on young girls. a search of the records revealed a sex crime in art ream's past. 20 years earlier in 1975, he'd been convicted and locked up for three years for taking indecent liberties with a minor. for detective mclaughlin, the cold case was now showing signs of a pulse. >> the person of interest at this time was art ream, the father of scott ream. >> reporter: the boyfriend, the father, he's got a rap sheet. >> that's right. >> reporter: but even though ream had moved to the top of the case file, authorities had nothing to charge him with. and no evidence whatsoever of a crime. at the dairy queen or any place else. >> at the same time i was getting a whole lot of leads coming in at this time.
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missing and exploited children out of new york. you had to check it out. because you just never know. and i checked every one of them out that called in personally. >> reporter: so dead or alive, you can't answer the basic question at this point. >> right. >> reporter: but cindy's family recognized this new detective on the case was different. he was taking it to heart, just as they did. >> as i got to know him better, he wasn't going to work on the case. he was going to find cindy. >> reporter: and finding cindy or her body, if it came to that, was paramount to a family frozen in uncertainty. unable to mourn and move ahead. could mac find connie's sister? wasn't even a case number to him. >> she was my sister, his sister, my dad and mom's daughter. >> reporter: after a few years on the case, mac got a call from art ream's ex-wife, linda. she had some news. art ream was back in prison for raping a child. this time he was convicted of criminal sexual conduct. ream was going nowhere.
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the detective would have time to come up with a strategy for getting inside the suspect's head. >> i knew that he didn't like police officers. he didn't like to talk to them. so i had to figure out a way, how i could talk to this guy. >> reporter: if art ream turned out to be a hannibal lecter, he was going to need a clarice starling to help bring him down. coming up -- >> i read the file and it really was contagious. >> a surprising young partner for the veteran cop helps his investigation take a new turn. >> it was truly amazing what they were telling me. >> reporter: when "cracked: the case of the girl who never came home" continues. injectable ra me you take just once a month. it's simponi™, and taken with methotrexate, it helps relieve the pain, stiffness, and swelling of ra with one dose a month. visit 4simponi.com to see if you qualify for a full year of cost support. simponi™ can lower your ability to fight infections,
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it wasn't until a few years after he had been ordered to solve the cindy case that detective derek mclaughlin, mac, sat down with the missing girl's father. ed zarzycki by then had remared a woman name linda. she would become the family's principal contact with the police because she knew it wasn't in ed's quiet nature to even talk much any more about cindy. >> when her birthday came or the anniversary of her death came or christmas came, i could feel his pain.
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she became my child as well. >> reporter: mac, the father of three daughters and a son, asked the couple to understand his situation. >> i said, listen, i'm going to do everything i can. but i'm kind of limited to what i can do because of my work load that i have now. linda was great. she even said i'll do anything. i've got secretarial skills. i can help you file. i can type up things. just so i could spend more time dealing with her family's case. >> reporter: linda zarzycki, the stepmother would go to the eastpointe police station on her lunch hour to pore through the case file. she'd suggest theories to mac. >> he said, yep, he thought of that, too. but he kept running into brick walls. he couldn't seem to make progress. >> reporter: in 2004 the brick wall was about to start crumbling, because a new player, a completely unlikely partner for the veteran detective, had talked herself on to the case. she wasn't even a cop. she was a 23-year-old college
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intern with a law enforcement consulting firm in chicago. where mac had taken courses on how to interrogate criminals. immediately the young intern was fascinated by cindy's case file. she picked it off her boss' desk when he wasn't looking. >> i since admitted it to my boss. i read the file. it really was contagious. i took that file home with me almost every single night and just kept re-reading it. >> reporter: jen leibow was at the time an undergrad studying for a communications degree. she quickly became obsessed with the suburban detroit teenager who disappeared when she herself was only 4. >> and then i brought it up to my bosses and they allowed me to call mac and see if i can be an extra set of hands for him. anything he needed. as a new investigator, i could learn from him, but i could also help him out. >> reporter: and the phone relationship remained for the next 2 1/2 years. mac, back in eastpointe doing the shoe leather investigating as he had time for and jen
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leibow in chicago going digital, diving into stuff that was mostly a mystery to mac. advanced computer research. searching missing person's websites, sifting myspace pages, hunting for cindy's old friends. along the way, she taught mac how to use e-mail. >> she's doing a lot of research, stuff that i don't have time to do. and she's helping me with that. >> reporter: jen's fascination with the psychology of the criminal mind brought her back time and again to some letters in the cindy case file. >> particularly letters from cindy's sister that they had written to the police department, just saying, please don't forget about this case. you know, this is my sister, this is a person. and there was a sense of injustice there that it looked like art ream was the one who did this to cindy, and had been sort of keeping the family psychologically hostage for all these years. you know, not knowing what happened to their daughter. >> reporter: art ream, the father of cindy's long-ago teenage boyfriend scott, was behind bars for raping a young
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girl. in fact mac had gone to jen's consulting firm that taught interview skills to ready himself for a confrontation with art ream. that had been your narrow goal when you went to them initially. give me tips on how to crack this nut, huh? >> that's correct, yeah. >> reporter: it wasn't until 2007 that detective mclaughlin and jen leibow made a critical decision in their case. they decided to reset the clock to april 1986 and start the investigation all over. that meant conducting fresh interviews. it changed everything. now two women who had been regarded as no more than bit players in the missing cindy drama were tracked down by mac and jen and became star witnesses following a tedious search. >> they had moved. their information wasn't the same. new last names. all that. >> reporter: cathy and theresa, two of cindy's best friends in 1986, each felt that the police had brushed off what they tried to tell them just hours after
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cindy disappeared. both thought the investigation lackadaisical. >> seriously flawed and botched from the get-go. >> reporter: now, two decades later, mac asked theresa to come down to the eastpointe pd and go over her story yet again. this time, the police interview was a very different experience. >> i knew right away, walking in there, that he was listening to what i was saying very intently. >> reporter: the story that the two friends told had for some reason never made it into the police files. it had to do with a surprise birthday party for scott and a planned meeting at the dairy queen. cindy had been over at cathy's house that saturday evening. cindy said she was going to hook up with scott's father in the morning. >> and she had mentioned that she was going to go to this belated birthday party in pontiac. she was supposed to meet art at the dairy queen the next day, sunday. >> reporter: how did he talk about this person art?
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>> she was very friendly with him. that was pretty much it. >> reporter: did she talk to this art at your house on the phone? >> yes, she called art to confirm the plans of the next day. >> reporter: cathy heard cindy tell the person on the phone that she'd look for his white van between 10:00 and 11:00 the next morning. cindy told her girlfriend she had a birthday present for scott. she asked cathy to please come along with her. cathy said her mother wouldn't let her. >> when she was leaving my house, she turned around to me and she said, will you please just show up? just say you're going to be there. like a reassuring, like she needed someone to really, truly be there. i said i'll see what i can do. and that was it. >> reporter: cindy called her other friend theresa sunday morning, same story. a surprise party for scott in pontiac, michigan. she was getting her ride at the dairy queen in a few minutes. >> she did ask me to go. and she knew right away when she asked me that i wouldn't be coming because absolutely, my
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mother didn't let me leave and go two feet down the block without someone going with me. and i think she really wanted to see scott, and she would have done just about anything maybe. >> it was truly amazing what they were telling me. >> reporter: it had taken more than 20 years but police had finally stitched together a timeline for what was certainly cindy's final weekend. the bait, a chance to be with the puppy love boyfriend scott. the boy's father waiting in his white van at the dairy queen. >> i remember him specifically saying to her on the phone, this was one of the conversations that she told me about, that he didn't understand why ed zarzycki would ground her for walking home from the mall, because it was no big deal. i think he was trying to make her feel comfortable with him. >> reporter: the story told by both girls, now adults, absolutely floored mac. various cops over the years, even mac, had talked to them, but somehow didn't hear it or didn't extract it or maybe it wasn't offered in the same way. despite his excitement, mac had
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one nagging question -- was it true. i even asked them when i interviewed both, when was the last time you two even talked, thinking that they might have concocted some story. they said, we haven't. i haven't talked to her since cindy disappeared. and i go, really? she goes yeah. they told me almost identical stories. >> reporter: do you believe their stories? >> absolutely. >> reporter: mac and jen's investigation was finally gaining traction. coming up, a search of art ream's one-time warehouse. and a big discovery. >> she goes, oh, my god, mac, look at this. >> reporter: when "cracked: the case of the girl who never came home" continues. [ inhales deeply ] ♪ ♪ [ female announcer ] lighting a glade scented candle
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the dairy queen was where the trail went cold. cindy zarzycki's long-ago girlfriends said she made plans to walk there on a sunday morning to meet her boyfriend's father art. together they'd ride in his white van to an out of town surprise birthday party for cindy's young flame, scott. >> it was obvious that he was very interested in young girls. >> reporter: when the detective, mac, talked to linda bronson, one of art ream's four ex-wives, he learned more about his primary suspect's stomach churning history. a pedophile who had been in prison in the '70s for taking indecent liberties with a minor. that's tame sounding legal language for what the victim, a hitchhiker said he actually did. abducted her, raped her in his
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car, then tossed her out the door. linda had two children with ream, scott and another boy. children thought the ex who were useful to ream's appetites when the boys became young teens. >> they attracted young girls. and art liked having the young girls around. i think that was why he liked having scott there, because he knew that girls would be attracted to him. and you know he'd have his chance to do whatever he wanted to do or whatever he thought he could get away with. >> he'd entice them with alcohol, marijuana, cigarettes, and he would be their friend and >> reporter: by 2007 with everything mac was learning about art ream, the theory that cindy was merely a teenage runaway was as outdated as her old mix tapes. this was a murder investigation. and the detective's thinking followed two paths. could he make the boyfriend's father or others for the crime and secondly did he have any way of finding cindy's remains?
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as a sign of how desperate mac was or how wide he was willing to throw his net, he paid a call on a psychic. the mystic had a strip mall storefront, sandwiched between a dry cleaner and a chicken joint. a cousin of cindy said she was weirded out when she heard him giving a reading at a party. mac figured he had nothing to lose. >> at this point, i'll try anything. >> reporter: the psychic told the cop he didn't have time for him. he had clients booked months in advance. >> i begged him. i says, hey, listen, two minutes of your time. he took us in the back. sat us down. and he had the reading cards flipped over. he said, well, she died a brutal death and she is dead. there's the seeker card. he says, you must be the seeker. he says you've been looking for her killer for a long time. and i says, yeah, he said, well,
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he's incarcerated. in fact, you're going to be seeing this guy in a few weeks. so at this point, my hair's rising on the back of my neck. >> reporter: the psychic had no way of knowing that mac was indeed going to have his first meeting with ream just a few weeks hence in the muskegon prison where he was serving out his second sex crime conviction. the psychic turned more cards. >> he's telling me a lot of things. he's saying that she's buried by a river, in the banks of a river, by a bridge, and by a big field of purple flowers. >> reporter: so where was this riverside grave? the cards didn't say. if art ream knew, mac was going to have to get it out of the suspect's head the old fashioned way, by interrogation and gamesmanship. >> all right, art. brought a new partner with me, detective mclaughlin. >> reporter: mac's first meeting
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with the man he suspected of abducting and murdering cindy came in early 2007. a prison interrogation of ream had been arranged and two senior members of jen's consulting firm, interviewers skilled in psychological techniques would be working with mac. coming to town with them was jen leibow, the detective and young researcher who wanted so badly to be on the case met for the first time after years of telephone calls and e-mails. >> as soon as she walked out of the elevator, i knew it was her. >> it was a good meeting. long overdue. >> reporter: but the business at hand was at hand. into the prison for an eight-hour grilling of art ream. at this point, he's 58 years old, and he's been in prison for the past ten years. >> you do know where she's at, art. that's the problem here. that's the whole problem of this whole investigation. >> reporter: the initial strategy was to deal with him as it were a given that everyone in that room knew that ream had something to do with cindy's disappearance and now was the time to explain it all.
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>> if you could put closure to this thing right now today, and help a family out. you think about it right now. if you need some paper, i'll get you some paper. you can write it down. >> no i -- i'm not going to write it down. >> why not? >> my memory's not that good. my spelling's not that good. >> reporter: in that first interview, ream controlled the game just as the psychological detectives had feared. mac suggested he could do himself some good by giving up the location of cindy's body. >> i can't make any promises, but do the prosecutor, do the judges, listen to me? of course they do. >> reporter: then the accusations took a harder edge. >> and you got information that will tell me where this girl is and you're not saying nothing. and i just think that's [ bleep ]. he just sits there, doesn't deny it, doesn't refute it, doesn't do anything, except sit there and nod his head saying, well, you got that right. >> reporter: a suspect, but no body, no witnesses, no forensics. the d.a.'s office was going to need more before moving ahead on
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art ream. if the d.a. was demanding better evidence, then mac wanted to get into this place and have a look around. it used to be a warehouse where art ream had his carpet business. in 1997 when he was arrested he was hustled off to prison so quickly that he never got a chance to return to the warehouse to tidy up. it had been virtually locked up for the last ten years. the d.a. gave mac a green light to search the place. >> we're nearing the end of our looking around, and in this bucket in the corner was this -- my partner kelly, she reached out and pulled out this longine's watch box. she opens it up, oh, my god, mac, look at this. i look at it and i'm looking at jewelry, some cufflinks and necklaces and stuff. i go, what's that? >> no, the piece of paper here. >> reporter: the torn paper was an old direct mail sales coupon for a construction class on one side and on the other, a "have
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you seen me" notice for cindy zarzycki with her picture and a 1-800 call line for leads. >> we're ecstatic. we're sitting there going, why would this guy have this in his property? >> reporter: maybe because the son was involved and it was the girlfriend and maybe the son had put it in there. >> we were thinking the same way. man, this is probably scott's. they're going to say this is scott's stuff. then we looked at the expiration date on the back of the advertisement. >> reporter: there it was in the small print. expires june 1995. why is that important? >> scott died july 4th, 1994. >> reporter: scott was dead by the time this thing was put into this keepsake box. >> that's correct. >> reporter: was this the best evidence you had to date? >> the only physical evidence. >> reporter: had mac and his partner stumbled upon a pedophile killer's trophy? the d.a. was very interested in what they found. >> mac, he says, you got a winner here. i think i can work with this.
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>> reporter: and work they did, trying to get art ream to reveal what happened to cindy. >> i'm not going to lie to you, but i'm not going to tell you what you want to know. >> reporter: playing cat and mouse with a suspect. when "cracked: the case of the girl who never came home" continues. ♪ walk like an angel ♪ walk like an angel [ laughs ] ♪ talk like an angel ♪ but i got wise [ grunting ] ♪ you're the devil in disguise [ male announcer ] we put it through over 5,000 quality tests... so it'll stand up to just about anything. the nissan altima. innovation that lasts. innovation for all. ♪ get 80% savings on final markdowns, including 80% off clothes, shoes, accessories, and 80% off home! did we mention our red zone clearance final markdowns are 80% off? who knew shopping could be so rewarding? jcpenney.
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cindy zarzycki had been missing for more than 20 years. the veteran detective mac and his unlikely assistant jen, the researcher with training in the psychology of interviewing criminals, had divided the labor of making a murder case against art ream, the father of cindy's
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boyfriend. jen interviewed ream's ex-wives, extended family members and the picture that came together was ugly. >> he was a pretty prolific pedophile. he had a fetish for 9 to 15-year-old girls, that he got away with a lot of it. that was really surprising. >> reporter: by the end of 2007 mac and jen also had the stories from cindy's girlfriends that cindy had planned to meet art ream at the dairy queen the sunday she disappeared. they had the old "have you seen me" picture of cindy. recovered from ream's keepsake box in his carpet warehouse. but what they didn't have was significant, no body and no hard evidence. ream was locked up in a prison in muskegon, ten years into a 12-year sentence for raping a young girl. mac thought with his suspect on ice, he'd have time to develop the circumstantial evidence the assistant d.a. said he needed. but the detective got a jolt when he discovered that ream was going to be getting out in the next few weeks on parole. he was going to be walking free right after christmas 2007.
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well, mac was going to need an arrest warrant immediately. so he crossed his fingers and showed an assistant prosecutor named steve kaplan what he had. >> mac, he says, you got a winner here. i think i can work with this. >> reporter: you got a green light. >> i got a green light. >> reporter: how do you feel? >> i couldn't wait to get to work. i couldn't wait to go up there and see art. >> reporter: on january 8, 2008, jen, mac and his regular partner drove an unmarked police car r wintryryoaoa t tmumuegon. they werereoioi t tararst ream andndriri h h back to their e lili station for one more interview, their last crack at him before he lawyered up. ream was waiting in a prison holding cell. >> i said i have a warrant for your arrest for the murder of cindy zarzycki. >> it was almost eerie that his lack of reaction. it was like, we just charge you with a first and second degree murder of a 13-year-old girl. pass the salt. >> reporter: they rigged up a
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concealed camera in the police car but it didn't capture anything useful from ream. he was blithely shooting the breeze with his arresting officers. >> he was actually even joking a lot with us on the way home. yelling at the truckers for not driving well and laughing with us. >> reporter: jen may have been the one in the car intrigued most by psychology and the criminal mind but it was mac who had the idea for the head game they were about to play on art ream. they'd make a stop before the police station at the cemetery where ream's son scott had been buried 13 years before. mac told his partner to pull over at a flower shop. he bought a dozen daisies and threw them in the back seat. >> and so he gets out of the car, we got him in belly chains and leg irons. he's scuffling up there to the gravesite. he starts crying. i said, here, why don't you put some flowers on your kid's grave. you know? make it look nice. >> we saw he was at a weak point there. he was emotional. he was sad. we were standing over his son's grave. art, you can bury your son, you've got that closure.
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you've laid your son to rest. can't you do the same for the zarzyckis? can't you give them that same peace? and he was quiet. and i looked at him. and i said, art, where's cindy? and he looked at me and he shook his head and he just said, that's a low blow. >> reporter: later, inside the interview room at the eastpointe cop shop with another concealed camera rolling, mac and jen came at art ream for the next eight hours, not confrontational, more like friends talking. they had all the time in the world for him and his ramblings. >> at this point, i hope you understand we're just trying to find cindy. >> so far i'm surprised. to be honest with you. >> what do you mean? >> your attitudes and you know, your treatment. >> are you saying it's better or worse than you thought. >> it can't be worse. it's got to be better. you know? >> you know, we're nice people. and we know that there's another side to art ream. >> some of the things that
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people are saying about me make me seem like a monster. i don't understand it. >> reporter: is he giving you anything? >> he's telling us he can't tell us anything because it will open up pandora's box. >> reporter: what's that supposed to mean? >> to us it meant there was a whole lot of bad information that he wasn't going to reveal. you know, incriminating information. >> so i'm not going to lie to you, but i'm not going to tell you what you want to know. >> that's not something an innocent person says. an innocent person doesn't have a pandora's box to open. >> reporter: they took a dinner break, turkey sandwiches. later when they resumed the examination took a deeply creepy turn for the young researcher. mac had stepped out of the room leaving jen with art ream. the hidden camera ran out of juice so jen switched on her tape recorder. >> he sort of looked towards the door in a way that, you know, is anyone there? and leaned in towards me and said, in a whisper. you know, it didn't happen exactly the way they say it did.
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it was like nothing you'd ever believe. i got the impression that maybe mac as a police officer, the police presence was a reminder of punishment and maybe he'll talk to me alone. >> reporter: let's you and me talk, huh? >> yeah. so i alerted mac to that. mac stayed right outside the door. and i proceeded to talk to art for about four more hours. >> reporter: a cat and mouse game? >> yes. >> reporter: clarice. >> yes. >> brave clarice will tell me know when those lambs stop screaming, won't you? >> tell me his name, doctor. >> clarice! your case file. >> reporter: the young investigator alone with a manipulative convict with a monstrous history, yes, she thought the same thing. she'd walked into a scene from "silence of the lambs." she was playing clarice starling to art ream's hannibal lecter.
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>> he even said to me during that part of the interview, i'm not hannibal lecter. he's been our own hannibal lecter on this case. >> reporter: she played along as the nonthreatening young female. he had sexually devoured young women and hadn't been close to one in years. >> so i'm going really easy with him, just really having conversation. i kind of feel like a [ bleep ] idiot sitting here because i got nothing out of all this. >> you did. >> you know everything. so how -- >> i don't know everything. >> reporter: so you think you got a shot, maybe the only shot. >> this is the last shot we have with him. he's going to get arraigned the next day and get his lawyers the next day. so we couldn't talk to him after this. >> reporter: ream suggested a game of sorts. find the body. he'd had a number of real estate properties linked to him over the years. jen pulled out a list of those locations from her case file. if she gave him an address, he'd tell her whether she was hot or cold. >> he said, yes, you should look there, well, no, that's not a good place to look.
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how are we going to start off? i'm going to start off with any of these places. should this be a place i start at. >> it's a good start, yeah. >> is it really? >> rule all these out. you know, take it from there. do your homework. >> reporter: he was playing this kind of juvenile game. >> yeah. >> reporter: what was he getting out of the game? >> i think he enjoyed being in control. i think he enjoyed being the manipulator. he didn't have to sit there in his cell waiting. he got to smoke and he was in a room. so he enjoyed it that way. >> see, you're opening up that damn box. >> i'm not afraid to open that box. >> because i told you to wipe that one off the slate. and i shouldn't have said that. >> why? it's like telling me, don't look in canada. >> why not? >> reporter: what was the best info you got out of him? >> the fact that he sat there and could tell me where the body was -- >> reporter: would entertain that thought? >> yeah, an innocent person can't tell you where the body is or isn't. >> reporter: it was 2:30 in the morning. the marathon day, the arrest, the visit to the cemetery, the eight-hour interview was over. >> can i go to sleep now? i can't keep my eyes open any
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more. >> reporter: but art ream had stayed buttoned up. he hadn't opened what he called his pandora's box, but he was still going to stand trial for the murder of cindy zarzycki. coming up -- an 11th hour surprise witness for the prosecution. >> he told me he would pay the airfare and expenses for scott if i would take him with me. >> reporter: when "cracked: the case of the girl who never came home" continues. hey! you're gonna wash the deck.
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with those lamps my mother gave us. or we could get some new lamps. or we could get no sofa. negotiating, eh? you got it! how about a nice home for our tv? how about doors to hide that drive-in theater? how about a cowhide rug? yee-haw! and the snacks? get their own place. let the marathon begin! if she'd come back from the dairy queen and lived, cindy zarzycki would have been 35 years old, but she didn't. and now art ream, the father of her long-ago teenage boyfriend, was about to stand trial for her murder. even if he wouldn't admit it to his persistent interrogators. cindy's sister connie was prepared to testify. >> it was very stressful on our
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family. we've already wondered what happened, for 22 years. then we now have to relive it on the stand. we know he did it. we just need the jury to know he did it, too. >> reporter: remarkably, cindy's dad was still holding out for a miracle. >> i was still hoping. >> reporter: still hoping she's alive? >> yes. >> this family and this case is exactly why we started this cold case unit. >> reporter: the police on the case had gotten some extra investigative oomph from the prosecutor's office. eric smith had made it a signature of his term in office to go after the hard-to-solve cases like cindy's. >> from the first meeting you have with the victim's family and you tell them we're going to pick up their case, you see the relief, you see the tears. at that point it almost doesn't matter to them what the end result is, just the fact that we're going back and trying to get justice. >> reporter: trial prosecutor steve kaplan had successfully handled every cold case, gaining convictions or plea bargains in all 21 of them.
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but he knew case number 22, the cindy case, was full of holes. >> we did not have a body. we did not have an eye witness to her being with anybody, kidnapped or ambushed. we had no physical evidence against anybody. >> reporter: in pretrial wrangling this wholly circumstantial case got a lot dicier. much of mac and jen's marathon investigation with art ream was tossed out because he had no lawyer present. the judge also declared inadmissible potentially devastating evidence. she ruled the jury could not hear about ream's history as a pedophile and of the sex crimes. then she threw out a chilling statement from the hitchhiker case when ream abducted a young and raped a young girl and tossed her from the car. it led to a license plate number leading to ream's conviction. that prompted ream to allegedly declare to an accomplice, quote, if i ever do this again, i'll kill the next victim. two rulings from the bench that were two strikes against the
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prosecution. >> the case is diminished. it would be like entering a gunfight with only part of your arsenal. >> reporter: the prosecutor began his case by knocking down the runaway theory. older sister connie testified that cindy would never have done a runner without packing a bag. >> i have a photographic memory, and i know her stuff was still there. she didn't take makeup or clothes or anything. >> what was her state of mind, happy, unhappy? >> she was one of the most happy, easy to get along with people. she let things slide off her back. >> cindy zarzycki she's the poster child for not being a runaway. she loved her family, had no drug addiction, had no mental illnesses. she's the last 13-year-old who would run away. >> reporter: what had happened to her then was suggested by the testimony of two of her best friends. cathy bouford and theresa olechowski. they both told the jury, as they
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told police back in 1986, about cindy's plans to meet her boyfriend's father art ream. >> they were making plans. they were going to go down and meet at dairy queen. >> she told me that she would be meeting arthur ream, scott's father, at the dairy queen because he was going to take her to a surprise birthday party for scott in pontiac. >> reporter: but the party was a ruse, later testimony would reveal. scott's birthday was in january, not april when cindy disappeared. the invitation, kaplan argued, was merely a ploy to lure cindy to the dairy queen and then to ream's van, and she hadn't been seen since. >> i know that cindy is in a much better place. she's not on earth right now. she didn't run away. i believe she's with the lord. >> reporter: and where was cindy's boyfriend scott on that sunday in question, april 20th? not in michigan, according to a late addition witness. >> raise your right hand. do you swear from the testimony you're about to give will be the truth. >> yes i do. >> it was one of those movie moments where a witness is served just before trial.
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>> reporter: the relentless lead detective had recently found this man, former employee of art ream in the carpet business. the ex-employee testified that he requested time off to attend to business in texas. >> he told me that the only way i'd be able to get that time off was if i took scott with me down to south texas, and he would pay the airfare and expenses for scott if i would take him with me. >> how long were you and scott away? >> we left on the friday, which would have been the 18th, and we were back nine to ten days later. >> reporter: so your theory is this art ream has been grooming his son's girlfriend and gets the son out of the way so he can carry it out. >> yes, yes, he gets the son out of dodge, in texas. >> reporter: and the prosecutor said there was one more circumstantial sign of art ream's connection to cindy. and it was the only physical evidence of significance produced in the case.
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exhibit number ten. >> exhibit ten is a mailer coupon that has a missing picture of cindy zarzycki. >> reporter: in 2007, you remember, detective mclaughlin had uncovered the curious item tucked away in a jewelry box in ream's old carpet warehouse. why in the world would ream have it there? the prosecutor asked the detective. >> they're like trophies. they like to save things that the normal person wouldn't. >> reporter: in his cross-examination of the detective, defense attorney tim kohler argued that art ream hadn't been in that warehouse for years, and suggested that the evidence could have been tainted. >> you don't know if anybody had been in there or not been in there. you weren't in there all that time, were you? >> no, sir. >> you don't know what would have been brought in there or taken out of there? >> that's correct. >> reporter: in his defense case he called just a couple of
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witnesses. none particularly useful. your general strategy to the jury in the court is what? >> you don't have enough evidence. it's a tragic event, but you don't have enough evidence. i know i don't have the burden. the burden is on the prosecutor. >> reporter: so kohler jabbed away at the prosecution's key witnesses, particularly detective mclaughlin. he wondered if mac had exhaustively run down all those leads on cindy as a possible runaway? >> they've had numerous -- by their own testimony, numerous calls about her that they didn't follow on. >> reporter: your mission as a defense lawyer is to plant that seed of doubt. >> that's right. that's right. >> reporter: and he hoped he raised sufficient doubt as he rested his case. to the news reporters on at least one scorecard, it looked as though the defense had a good shot. as you went into closing arguments, what was the betting in the courtroom about guilty or not guilty? >> it was probably about 30-70 in favor of not guilty. >> reporter: in favor of not guilty? >> yeah. >> reporter: reporter amber hunt of the "detroit free press" had heard a totally circumstantial case.
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there was no body and his past as a pedophile had been excluded. >> it was not slam dunk. >> reporter: before the lawyers had an opportunity to give closing arguments, something extraordinary was about to happen in judge's chambers. a hush hush meeting that could blow the case out of the water. >> and i just happened to notice that the judge said nobody can overhear this, and then i put two and two together. >> reporter: coming up -- the defendant offers a deal for information on cindy. but will the chief prosecutor buy it? >> my first inically nation was hell no. [ female announcer ] at jcpenney red zone clearance,
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the victim. the accused killer. and the father, compassionate beyond common understanding. >> god told me to start praying for him. >> reporter: that you should pray for art ream? >> yes. >> reporter: this man accused of abducting and killing your daughter the way the prosecutor described it? >> yes, he told me that i need to pray for him and forgive him. >> reporter: and cindy's father was about to show mercy to his daughter's accused killer in court, too. because of a dramatic event right before closing arguments. art ream was talking a plea. courtroom top secret. >> they cleared out the courtroom, told us all to leave. and i just happened to notice that the judge said to one of the bailiffs, you need to make sure that the entire back room is cleared out. nobody can be in my chambers. nobody can overhear this. then i put two and two together. >> reporter: amber hunt figured it out and would later be the first to report that an 11th
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hour plea deal had been in the works. lawyers from both sides and the zarzycki family were summoned to the judge's chambers. >> we want to talk to you. he wants to make an agreement. >> reporter: ream told his lawyer he didn't murder cindy, but he could reveal where she was buried in exchange for a reduced charge and a lesser sentence. >> he tells me that he knows. >> reporter: the defense attorney kohler then asked detective derek mclaughlin for help. >> but i said, you got to work the deal, though. >> reporter: the defense lawyer needed mac as a negotiating ally to prod eric smith, the prosecutor, to make a deal. >> my first inclination was hell, no, i'm going to make sure he goes to prison for the rest of his life. the idea that a defendant thinks he can take control of this process and use this poor 13-year-old girl's body as a bargaining chip may be the lowest thing i've seen. >> reporter: ream held one trump card, cindy's body.
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and the zarzyckis wanted that above anything else, even a conviction. the family found itself taking art ream's side in the plea talks. >> it was all about finding cindy. that was the thing right from day one. >> reporter: they had no chance to say good-bye and knew nothing of cindy's whereabouts for the past 22 years. at least now they could give her a proper burial, if only the prosecutor would make a deal with the devil. >> i would rather have her buried on our own terms than some killer like in the middle of the night. >> reporter: detective mclaughlin was also arguing for a deal. after all, he promised the family he'd bring cindy home. >> well, the time i got this case, i had a daughter that was 13. the same age daughter as what cindy was when she disappeared. >> reporter: now it was up to prosecutor smith. >> it was a lot of heated discussions about this. >> reporter: you got this delicate situation of trying to broker the people's interests versus the family's passionate desire. >> and you can't say no. they've lived this for more than
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20 years. with myself and the father and the family came to sort of a middle ground. i agreed to reduce it from first degree murder to second degree murder. >> reporter: smith was also willing to downsize the sentence from mandatory life to 22 years. so would it be deal or no deal? >> it fell apart because he wanted a better deal. >> we couldn't get the number. it fell apart because we couldn't get the number. >> reporter: no deal. ream had insisted on only a ten-year prison sentence. the d.a. wasn't going there. >> when he said no, it was taken off the table immediately. steve ran into court and did closings. >> reporter: the jury was totally unaware of the 11th hour plea negotiations. the prosecution went first. >> cindy's not coming home. cindy's dead. this man not only killed her but he deprived the family of a burial. >> reporter: then closing from the defense. >> you've got reasonable doubt, you can come back with a verdict and that verdict is not guilty.
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>> reporter: then the jury went behind closed doors to deliberate a first degree murder case. to the surprise of nearly everyone, they were back after just two hours. >> mr. foreman, have you reached a verdict? >> yes, we have. >> would you give it to my deputy. >> i remember praying and praying and praying. >> as to count one your verdict is -- >> guilty in the first degree. >> guilty of first degree murder. i felt like someone punched me right in the heart. because at that moment, i knew i would have to admit she's gone and she's never coming back. and i was glad that he'd go to jail for what he did. >> reporter: a mandatory life sentence. art ream had overplayed his hand. >> it took us 22 years to bring justice to her. >> reporter: but it was a bittersweet victory for the zarzyckis. they lost their cindy, and now they lost their leverage with ream to get her remains back for a proper burial. >> i told my wife, i says, we'll never know now.
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probably will go to my own grave not knowing where she was. >> reporter: except for one thing. the zarzyckis still had detective mclaughlin on the case, and it wasn't over for him. coming up -- >> he says, ed, i'm going to find cindy. >> reporter: the detective won't rest until he keeps his promise. when "cracked: the case of the girl who never came home" continues.
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he had to keep on a coming. there were years of frustration but detective mclaughlin had
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finally taken down cindy zarzycki's killer. how did he take the verdict? >> i was real happy. >> reporter: is that a high five moment? >> more than high five. >> mac and i gave each other a big hug after that. >> reporter: but to jen and mac, this odd couple interrogation team, the conviction was only half the battle. >> the second we're done with all the official proceedings, i mean, mac just took off. and he wanted to go talk to art because i think the same thing was in both our minds. now it's time to find the body. >> he says, ed, don't have a memorial service. i'm going to find cindy. >> reporter: it was a promise mac had made to cindy's father and the rest of the family. cindy's case would stay open on his desk until her body was found. so i went and talked to art. >> reporter: art had just been convicted. he was still in the courthouse lockup. mac tried the old buddy-buddy approach. >> art, you're not a killer.
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you might have a fetish with 13, 14, 15-year-old girls, but you're not a killer. tell me what happened that day. he says, i panicked. and it got out of control and i killed her. but where did you put her? you need to tell me where you put her. mac, i can't tell you that. >> reporter: the detective playing buddy buddy was all well and good, but clearly ream had no incentive to give up the information. his murder one conviction carried with it an automatic life sentence. >> the first meeting he has with art doesn't go very well. >> reporter: so mac's boss inspector john calabrese, suggested a new ploy to sneak inside the mind of a killer. take away his control with some psychological jujitsu. drill into ream's head that he doesn't matter any more. no one cared about his aimless ramblings. he was yesterday's news. >> mac, you need to take a different approach with art. you need to let him know that you don't care any more. if we find the body, fine. if not, it's over. nice talking to you but have a nice rest of your life in
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prison. >> reporter: this is a whole new strategy. >> yep. >> reporter: it went against mac's gut to play nonchalant about what he cared for most, finding cindy's body. but he went with his boss' suggestion to try a new tactic, be brusque and dismissive. he hoped ream would get flustered and produce a map and that would lead him to cindy. >> how you been? >> reporter: a few weeks after the trial and conviction, mac had a jailhouse meeting with ream in a visitor's room by his cell. the detective recorded the interview with a camera concealed inside a plastic bottle. right away, mac laid down the new law. >> the case is done. i have closure with it. the family's got closure. do we want cindy back? absolutely. but everybody's okay. that's all i want to do is today basically, get information as to where cindy's remains are. i don't want to talk about anything else today. >> reporter: ream, as he had so often before tried to change the conversation. >> so you really don't care what
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happened? you're happy with the story that was told, right? >> right now, yeah. >> reporter: at first it seemed like ream wasn't taking the bait. the two sparred. >> if it doesn't matter what happened, you know, it doesn't, you know, then it doesn't matter, then does it? >> it does matter. it matters a lot. >> why would it matter? if you don't care, the family don't care. >> no, we didn't say nobody cares. we just said we have closure. >> reporter: mac stuck to the game plan. pretend like it's all old history. >> i said i'm fine with it. i'm going to move on. and this guy was like hanging on -- i'm trying to get up. art, you got five minutes to write me out a map. >> reporter: the ploy was working. ream could sense the curtain was coming down, and he didn't like not being center stage any more. >> i don't have closure, so how the hell can they have closure? >> because that's the type of people they are. do they want their daughter back? of course they do. >> he took his trump card. it was perfect.
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art had no more control. he couldn't be the puppet master. mac took it from him. >> anyway, we're done. >> i don't like what you said that nobody cares what happened. >> i didn't say that. >> it drives me crazy. >> no, art, art. you're missing it. >> reporter: clearly mac's trick psychology had gotten to ream. the killer who kept the zarzyckis in the dark for 22 years. now the tables were turned and he sputtered at his loss of control. >> they care. but they're satisfied what they've got so far, okay? >> that's impossible. that's impossible. it's been driving me crazy for 22 years. >> reporter: mac had been shadow boxing with a psychopath, rummaging around the brain of a killer, jabbing at him from a different direction. but he left without ream coughing up a map. you weren't sold on this strategy going in? >> no, i wasn't. >> reporter: so about a week goes by and his lawyer calls you. >> and he says, my client wants
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to give you a map. >> reporter: it was the break he dreamed of since the case file thumped on his desk back in 1995. you get a call. we've got a map? >> i think i was done packing before we hung up the phone. >> reporter: later, at the jail, the bottle cam caught ream handing his attorney a hand-drawn map. in the crudely drawn map, ream marked cindy's burial spot with an x near a river. about 25 feet from bridge, he wrote. >> why did you pick this spot? >> you ever walk in the country? >> i did. >> it's nice up there. >> it is. >> reporter: he mapped out a place where he used to keep bees. >> how large is this area that you excavated, dug out for her? >> now did you go pretty deep or -- >> probably four feet. >> reporter: even if he was telling the truth, locating cindy's body would be extremely difficult. it had been 22 years. she'd been buried beside a river
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known for flooding its banks. maybe her bones had carried downstream. even though mac had promised her father, maybe for cindy, it was just destined to remain a mystery. coming up -- a dramatic journey, a killer taken in chains to the place where he said he buried cindy. >> i tell you, she was calling to us. we weren't going to leave that area without her letting us know where she was. >> reporter: would they finally find her and bring her home? when "cracked: the case of the girl who never came home" continues. (birds chirping) like strolling in an orchard ♪ is this my husband? awesome cool hat, mom oh my perfect kids alright fourteen ninety nine i totally wear hats
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they gathered by a river behind an old farmhouse. searchers, forensic anthropologists, guided only by a crude map drawn by the killer. >> she's down by the river. she's 25 feet to the west of the bridge. >> reporter: how surreal it was for mac. when he got to the scene, he remembered back to what the psychic had said. he was amazed that the area was so much as the psychic had described it. >> one of the first things that popped in my head was when we first got out there, the bridge. the banks of the river. the field of flowers. it was unbelievable. >> reporter: the tranquility of
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the river and woods on that july day in 2008 was in stark contrast to what the searchers hoped they'd find there, the burial site of cindy zarzycki. art ream had dug a grave site in what turned out to be a flood plain. maybe all trace of cindy had been washed away. >> cadaver dogs didn't find anything. we weren't exactly sure where it was. >> i knew she was there. still trying to find a needle in a haystack. >> reporter: so mac got permission to spring ream from prison to narrow down the search. he lumbered in convicts chains to the place where he thought he dumped the murdered 13-year-old 22 years before. >> when he came out, he more or less -- he couldn't remember exactly where he had put cindy. >> reporter: the pedophile killer poked about here and there as though he were trying to select a picnic spot. >> just walking around, going, yeah, i remember these trees. i think i was over here.
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it -- it could be over here. >> reporter: prosecutor eric smith whose cold case unit had put ream away for the rest of his life was made crazy by ream's casual banter. >> to the point where i just said, stop. just shut up. the fact that he could stand out there knowing full well the last time -- the last time he was here he's burying cindy zarzycki. and he's walking around like he doesn't have a care in the world. maybe it was that i'm a father but that got to me in a hurry. >> reporter: ream was hustled back to prison but not before mac had taken him to a suspicious spot that earlier they had a cadaver dog sniff at. >> he said i think it's closer to the river. >> reporter: about an hour northeast in the retirement cottage by lake huron, ed and linda zarzycki were well aware that the search for cindy had started but mac spared them the agonies. >> you stay put. i promise, when we find her
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remains, we'll call you. >> reporter: it was turning into a frustrating day. four holes came up empty. she could be anywhere. still, the searchers pushed on as the july day became a scorcher. they were doing it for the girl's father and for mac. you had promised the father, you said, ed, i'm going to get you your girl's body back. >> that's something that i should have never done, but i did. that's one thing a law enforcement person should do, is promise somebody they're going to get their deceased daughter back. daughter back. they were genuine people who missed their daughter. if it was me, i'd want somebody working on my case, if i had a daughter that came up missing. >> reporter: a neighborly farmer came by with his front end loader to pitch in. like so many others touched by cindy's case, the farmer, a diabetic, became completely caught up in the mission and forgot to eat. >> his wife come down worried about him. why don't you take your tractor home and call it a day. you look whipped. he says, no, i'm out here to
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find this little girl. >> reporter: by then, it was getting late in the day. >> it's getting dark. it's hot. mosquitoes. >> reporter: outside the dig area, cindy's brother and sister were waiting for any news. the shadows getting longer. >> what happens when it becomes dark? you know, are they going to bring lights out there and keep searching? i said, that's when we pray. i prayed. my prayer was that if they are to find her, lord, tonight, let them do it now. >> reporter: mac and the chief anthropologists had been ready to call it quits, but they decided to look one more time at the very spot ream had dismissed earlier because it wasn't near the river. the anthropologist was intrigued. >> he said let's give it one more shot. this looks like a good area to look at. >> reporter: it would be hole number five. the farmer on the loader scooped out a four by ten foot trench. >> there was a little hump in the middle of this trench. i'm looking at it. i remember asking art when he buried cindy, did you flatten out her grave or did you just
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leave it like a hump like they do in the movies? he said, i just left it a hump. >> reporter: mac jumped into the hole. >> first time, all day long, i grabbed a shovel with another trooper and we're digging. and my second shovel, i wrenched the dirt back and up popped this bone. >> reporter: for the anthropologist, it was the moment. >> he picks up the bone, he holds it like this. and he says, mac, do you know what this is? i think i'm in a state of shock at this time. i says, no, i don't. he says, well, that's a bone. that's a tibia bone. to an adolescent child. and i says, how do you know that? he goes, well, one, i'm an anthropologist, and, two, the bone hasn't been fused yet. so i said, okay. so it's not an animal bone? i'm still in a state of shock. he goes, no, cindy's right below us. >> reporter: you had found cindy. >> yeah. >> reporter: after all those years.
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that's a clavicle. >> reporter: mac and the anthropologic team was bringing up more. >> is that jewelry. >> reporter: recovering personal items that maybe the girl's family could identify. >> would that be clothing? >> reporter: what he was finding was enough for mac to make a phone call he always wanted to make. >> he calls up about 5:30 and said, can you be here? >> reporter: more pain staking digging, still nothing unmistakably cindy until -- >> looks like the purse. >> reporter: as the investigators carefully remove the purse's contents, they found something that almost declared, yes, i am cindy zarzycki's remains. >> and a tape. >> reporter: a mix tape. prosecutor smith approached the zarzycki family who now gathered on the fringe of the dig. >> i said, well, there were certain things in her purse that were pretty distinctive. they didn't say anything.
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i said, a homemade tapes of music. >> he said the word cassette tapes. i laughed and cried at the same time. that's cindy. >> reporter: mac promised you results, and he got them. >> yes, he did. he promised me, he said, i will not give up till we find cindy. >> i still can't believe it. it was like we weren't supposed to find her that day, but i'll tell you, she was calling to us. and she was -- we weren't going to leave that area without her letting us know where she was. >> reporter: but there was something amidst the bones that no one could recognize. a piece of jewelry. there was one remaining mystery to solve. coming up -- revealing a murderer's secrets. >> pandora's box still has a few things in it. >> reporter: when "cracked: the case of the girl who never came
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it was a life cut short by the pedophile father of her first crush. the teenage artifacts of cindy zarzycki thick with dried mud
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were set out on a place station table. detective, this is really distressing to see this stuff. this is the last of cindy that came out of the grave. >> that's correct. >> reporter: for derek mclaughlin, the detective who couldn't rest until he found her, the tube socks with the stripes worn by a budding athlete is what got him. >> her friends said she wore them, wearing jeans. when i saw the socks, i said, that's cindy. >> reporter: for best friend theresa, there were the white boots with the buckle, only one was found, the other apparently swept away. >> her shoes are what did it for me. i had gotten a pair for christmas. cindy desperately wanted them. and she nagged her grandmother for these shoes. her grandmother finally broke down and bought her the shoes. >> reporter: the tapes, cindy always carried around her tapes, her music. >> reporter: for her older sister connie, the mixed tape cassettes taken from cindy's purse, coming months before a dna match from the lab, was all the confirmation that she would need. had the tapes just maybe been cindy's birthday present for
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scott, her boyfriend? connie says she and cindy gave away mix tapes as gifts all the time. >> we would pick their favorite songs or something that had meaning to us, to show how much we cared for that person. >> reporter: but there was one item from the grave that no one in cindy's family could remember. a gold necklace with a charm on it. an anchor. >> i found it around her neck area. >> reporter: her family didn't know what to make of that? >> exactly. we asked them if they could i.d. this and nobody could. >> reporter: but linda bronson one of art ream's ex-wives, said, yes, she knew what it was. art had worn that anchor chain all the time. >> we're thinking that what art did after he put cindy in the grave, he put his necklace around her neck and then buried her. >> reporter: what do you make of that? >> a possession type thing. >> reporter: just as he kept a missing persons flyer of cindy as a trophy. >> it is the sentence of this court that you be incarcerated in the michigan department of corrections to serve a life sentence.
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>> reporter: at his sentencing, mandatory life, ream was still trying to keep his grip on the family he devastated for more than two decades. he offered to tell cindy's dad explicit details of what happened after he and cindy met up at the dairy queen. >> i would like to ask the father if i could get his permission to write him, and maybe it would help us both if he knew everything. >> reporter: but ed zarzycki said no way. he and his family really had moved on, thanks to detective mclaughlin, after years of police failure. cindy's mother alice said locating her daughter's remains had given them all closure. >> if we had not found cindy's body, a piece of me maybe could have had one little piece of hope. maybe it's not really true. and if it wasn't really true,
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i'd see her again. >> reporter: ed and his wife linda accepted mac's invitation to visit the riverside grave with him. did you get anything from it? >> i think the only thing that i got from it was it was a very peaceful spot. you know, by the river. and when we left, it almost felt like her spirit went with us. and she was with family again. ♪ he's holy good and just ♪ ♪ and so we trust in god ♪ >> reporter: in november 2008, with dna lab results finally confirming what everyone knew, cindy's remains were returned to her family for a memorial service. hundreds of mourners filled the funeral home in eastpointe. her pastor from the 1980s
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remembered cindy. >> a great girl, just right on the edge of being kids sometimes and being a young lady some other times. >> reporter: one of sister connie's daughters read a poem of reremembrance, speaking emotionally about someone she'd only learned about from pictures and family stories. >> i love you even though we never met. >> reporter: the next day the casket bearing cindy's remains was brought to the cemetery that would be her final resting place. cindy's long suffering father welcomed her home after 22 years of paralyzing uncertainty. ed zarzycki had bought the burial plot for her two years before. his faith told him that some day cindy would be laid to rest next to a sister lost in infancy and across the way from her beloved grandma frannie who had spoiled her with those gotta-have white shoes. other family members and friends, old and new, paid their
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respects, including mac and jen, whose nonstop dedication to finding cindy made this bittersweet day finally possible. >> bye, little girl. >> it really puts a fire under you to realize what we can do as investigators. you know, lets other perpetrators know even if you think you committed a perfect crime, you didn't leave dna or any fibers or hairs behind, they're still going to get you. >> reporter: yet mac hasn't entirely closed out this case file. he believes art ream may have buried more bodies by that river bank. he's opened two new investigations. >> pandora's boxes still has a few things in it. >> reporter: whatever happens in the future, mac says getting justice for cindy was not just the case of a lifetime. it was a lifetime's
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satisfaction. >> this is the best thing that's ever happened to me and that's including even the birth of my kids. to be able to give something of this magnitude back to a family. >> that's all for this edition of "dateline friday." we're back on sunday at 7:00, 6:00 central. i'm ann curry. for all of us here at nbc news, ♪ [ male announcer ] new inventory. ♪ new equipment. new trucks. new hires. ♪ new space. ♪ new markets. achievement seizes new opportunity. go to pnc.com/businessloans to see how we can help your cash flow situation. pnc. for the achiever in us all.

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